Sunday, June 21, 2009

Thursday evening fun in the City

This is the Liffey River about a 5 minute walk from the National College of Ireland where Jarod and I are staying. :) When I'm awoken during the middle of the night it is usually because of seagulls cawing outside my window.

Dublin: Merrion Square Park, being a little leprecaun and hiding in the foliage. :)

The World Championships of Street Perfomers was happening in Merrion Square in Dublin, so Jarod and I just had to go see what they were offering. Here are some pictures of opening night.

I was a fun squiggle for my backyard. :)

Watching one of the more pitiful versions of a street performer. He tried soo hard, but failed misserably to be funny.

So much like Ireland it just rains out of no where. It will be sunny and then a little misty and then a downpour. Jarod and I took refuge in what he called "Nature's umbrella" the foliage of the park and waited it out. When it stopped and we emerged the most beautiful ROYGBIV rainbow was staring out at us. So amazing!

This guy was from Canada and was hilarious! I really think he might need to make a trip to Butler. He was a silent performer and would get people to act out things that he wanted to do. Really funny!

His specialty was luring children with Chupas (lollys or lollipops as we would call them.)

This festival really focused on kids too and I loved these signs that they had around the park. :)

Lots of people waiting for the rain stop so their umbrellas and ponchos could be packed up again.
After the show, Jarod took us to Grafton St. (the shopping district). Sadly all of the shops were closed by the time we arrived. We've been eating dinner at like 9 at night and everything shuts down here at about 6 or so. :( But we had great Gourmet burgers at this restaurant here that he loved. Yum!
Then on our walk back, we passed a Famine Memorial near the Liffey River. It is very haunting! They are supposed to be walking to the ships to emigrate from Ireland

We headed to bed after this and then hit the road for Belfast on Friday afternoon. But not before visiting the Book of Kells at Trinity. We also got to meet with one of the students in the Student's Union so I was able to squeeze some work stuff into the trip as well. :) The campus is so beautiful it is hard to put into words. I'll add some pictures of that as well.
Then after lunch, we headed to the train station and were on our way to Belfast.
I'll post all of those pictures later! There are a couple hundred! YIKES!
Need to shower now though as we are enjoying another day of touring here, but just in Dublin: Kilmainham Jail, Guinness Storehouse, National Museum, and a few other places.
Talk to you soon!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sligo and CSSI conference pictures

Organ, stained glass, and the church pews...all stone walls and lots of natural light! The way a church should look. :)

Also, you can see the tombs that people dedicated to their family members that line the walls. They were so beautifully written about the wonderful accomplishments and deeds that the person had done in their life. Awesome way to memorialize someone.

This is the wall above the alter in the St. Columba's church, Sligo.

Very neat cemetary! I saw gravestones that dated back 100+ years on the outside, and some catacomb tombs in the walls on the inside that were 150+ or more on the inside. You can still see Benbulben Mountain in the background.

View from the church corner.

For the really nerdy, dork, English major in me... W.B. (William Butler) Yeats' grave. He was moved to this location, but is from Sligo and his Grandfather had been the caretaker of the church when he was younger.

St. Columbas.

Church where William Butler Yeats was burried. It had very cool old stones for graves that were flat pieces of rectangle rock that were etched in with the details of the death of the person, almost in a lyrical or poetic way. I couldn't get a picture where you could actually see it though.

This is Benbulben Mountain. It is so large and heads out toward the sea near Sligo.

Cool Celtic cross in the cemetary at St. Columba's church, Sligo, Ireland.

Jarod, Meg, and Colleen at the Confederation of Student Services of Ireland Conference, final day...Job well done!

Jarod and Meg, the yanks, at the conference.

More adventures to come in 36 hours...
This morning we're headed over to Trinity to see the Book of Kells, the Harp that is one of the symbols of Ireland and maybe tour their Student Union. Thank you Deirdra for your hospitality!
This afternoon Jarod and I head to Belfast on the afternoon train.

The Shining Hotel

Jarod, "the Gargoyle" likes to hide in small nooks and crannies and jump out at the guests as they walk by. It is a form of intimidation and psychological torture at the hotel.

As you can see, there are two watchtowers that overlook the front lawn, just to be sure that no one escapes.

Front view with scary ominous lights and clouds in the background.

And again...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Back in Dublin!

Hi Everyone!

Back in Dublin again! :) This time I have a home for 8 days...yay!

I've checked into National College of Ireland in Dublin's Financial District and I start my official University College Dublin meetings tomorrow. I can't chat long tonight because I have to be up at 6am, showered and ready to catch the bus by 7:30. For those of you who know me well...this is very difficult for me. I'm not a morning person...tea and bickies here I come! But I'm excited to learn some more about Irish Student Services. And I know have a better base for asking questions after attending the conference.

I'll write more tomorrow. Sorry so short. Gotta go to bed...only 6 hours until I have to be alive, bright eyed and bushy tailed.


Ps. I'll post pictures of "The Shining Hotel," the conference sign with all of the Butler peeps, and tell you about my conference presentation in the next post. But for went really well, and I was very excited that Jarod and I were accepted so well and had great attendance. I'll leave you with these final details to make you come back for more... a. there almost weren't enough seats in the room, b. we had a very high profile American Higher Education Theorist in our presentation...and c. we rocked it out!

Conference Presentation Tomorrow!

Wish Jarod and I luck tomorrow at 10:30 am Ireland...or during your dreams in America. :)

We worked tonight for about 4 hours on our presentation tweaking and twisting it into what we hoped to explain about America, First Year Experience and Programming in 20 minutes. Lord help us! Oh well...I'm sure it will be fine. We have fun pictures and stories to just to be able to answer their questions.

Sorry I haven't posted recently, but really I haven't done much beyond attend conference sessions, take notes with tons of questions to ask the people I will be meeting with later this week and next, and then visit with the other people from the Irish schools. :)

Tomorrow is the last day of the conference, so I have to pack, and get ready to head back to Dublin to move into my new digs at the National College of Ireland in Dublin's Financial District downtown. Jarod and I will be neighbors and get to hang out some more after work hours. I'm so thankful that he's around and we can catch up and learn about Irish universities together. We've also made friends with locals around here from IT Sligo, and will be trading post and treats with a woman named Tarha. We were talking food recipes for sweets and savories this whole weekend...and she mentioned she can't get some things here and we said the same. So we'll have our own little international food exchange. YAY!

Jarod and I took some creepy pictures of the hotel tonight after our conference dinner, so those will be posted soon.

Otherwise, I'm going to go enjoy a nice bath in the tub here before I head to bed.

Talk to "yous" (another new Irish term) soon.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Disclaimer for the post that follows this one...

Gerard and Meeghan would like to make sure that everyone knows they aren't being insensitive...we are just observing and absorbing as much Irish as possible and want to share with everyone. :)

Take that the post was written after 7...yes...7 cups of tea throughout the day and a sugar takes some getting used to. But we do like tea. Here are Gerard and Meeghan's tea and chocolate bickies to share with you.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Stereotypically Cliche Irish Week eND

Jarod and Meg's adventures...

First, Week eND is literally pronounced as such. Two separate words and emphasis on the end. :) here is what has happened on this week eND:

1. In a very "Bridget Jones" kind of way that Meg always gets herself into "dramawkard" situations, Meg had to travel by bus and then train to meet Jarod in Town aka "Dublin." She made it on the bus and was dropped off at the train tracks to find her way. Colleen in her infinite wisdom had given Meg a little scrap of paper map to show which side of the tracks she needed to be on to make sure to arrive at the right station in Dublin. Meg got confused. Cue turnstyle and her ridiculously large, American, suitcase. Meg walked to the ticket machine, bought a single pass into the city, as directed, and then headed for the turnstyle. She would like to note that her outfit of choice was a breezy, jersey skirt, sandals, and a colorful top...these are important details to remember as part of this story. Meg proceeds to push her suitcase through the turnstyle, at which point it gets stuck and she can't get through herself. A very kind, elderly, Irish woman arrived and helped me pick up her 50+ lb suitcase over the turnstyle. Meanwhile, she still has to make it over the wheel herself, at which point she just straddles the bar of the turnstyle and takes a little hop over, only to discover, she is on the wrong side of the track, quite literally. SO, yet again, Kindly Elderly Irish Lady helps Meg to collect her suitcase and lift it yet again over the gate. Meg then again has to lift her skirt slightly and jump over the 4 foot gate to go to the other side of the track. She looks like a stupid American Tourist, like the luggage. At least she gets a good belly laugh and a shake of the head out of it.

2. Meanwhile, back at the ranch (also known as NCI), Meg has given Jarod (or Gerard) a ring on his mobile letting him know that she is on her way. Jarod believes that this is a good opportunity to finish up a few work tasks before heading to the train station to pick her up. In an attempt to respond to emails, he fails to find proper directions to the train station--although he does receive some very good directions on how to get to a Tesco Market on Baggot Street (this, too, will come into play momentarily). Jarod receives a call that Meg has arrived at the train station and needs to be collected--much as one would collect the Post, a piece of baggage from a carousel, or bodies like a serial killer. He sets off on his supposedly four block walk to collect Meg and makes it to the bus station. Since Gerard has been to the bus station a couple of times, he knows that there are no trains that arrive there. Perhaps he missed the station on his way? Continuing on his quest, he walks back toward NCI and approaches a building that looks much like a train station. He enters, walks completely the building, and realizes again, that this is not the station. He must, again, turn around and makes his way back toward the bus station. Maybe he has missed the train lines. Finally, nearly 20 minutes later than he was supposed to pick Meg up, Jarod hollars a warm "Failte" (pronounced "Fall-dza" Welcome) and collects Meg from the station. Apparently, putting two stations of different modes of transportation one block apart from each other is considered good practice. Nonetheless...Meg is collected safely and is escorted back to NCI.

3. or said like "Tree". Meg and Jarod spend a blustery and blistery afternoon together, walking to Upper Baggot Street--which is, strangely enough, more lower than Lower Baggot Street--to have lunch with a couple of Butler students. During this excursion, they cross the River Liffey, make polite conversation with a couple of Gardai (policemen), see many Georgian doors, and add a few blisters to their feet along the way. A "short walk" becomes 40 minutes each way.

4. After finishing up his internship, Jarod and collected Meg board a commuter train to Greystones. Despite whispering, they are still the "loud" Americans because everyone else is silent on the train. As they approach Greystones, County Wicklow, the land opens up and they were parallel to the ocean and the bay. Enter Fog into the lush, green, rock walled countryside and land.

5. Colleen collects them, drives them to her home. And they have tea.

6. Jarod and Meg much to their own terror, experience Fish and Chips (~ Delicious, they decide later...) at a local take away Chipper next to a dodgey amusement shop and the dilapadated underfunded and in need of much loving docks of the bay. (They're actually under construction.)

7. Jarod and Meg meet Colleen's "cheeky" yet hospitable, husband Pat. He is a delight to verbally spar with. And then they have tea.

8. Plans are discussed for Jarod and Meg's week eND o' fun and Belfast is quickly becoming their destination of choice.

9. Exit Sun 11p.m.

10. Put on eye mask to sleep.

11. Enter Sun Four : Tirty (4:30) a.m.

12. Fix eye mask to cover eyes instead of forehead. Exit Sun.

13. Meg awakes, showers, and gets dressed before going downstairs at about 9:tirty. No one appears to be in the house, so she makes Irish Soda Bread toast with jam, and then she has tea.

14. Pat returns from the market and Greystones with the morning paper. Verbal sparring commences. 10a.m.

15. Jarod awakes, showers, and gets dressed before going downstairs at about 10:tirty. Colleen returns from getting her hair done and brings brunch items with her. And then they have tea.

16. Jarod and Meg, with much terror, experience wild boar and apple sausage. Irish Soda Bread toast, scrambled eggs, ta-mah-toes, and then they have tea.

17. After round robin reading of the newspaper and other reading materials, Gerard, Meg, and Colleen walk to Greystones.

18. At the Super-valu, Gerard and Meg pick out a sugar coma of treats including: bickies (biscuits), teacakes, snowballs, almond fingers, jaffacakes (which has it own Jaffacakes Anonymous- If you think you have a problem, call in the strictest confidence- UK 0500 0117 10 or the Republic of Ireland 1800 409 317 M-F 9am-5pm), and fancies. Much nibbling ensues and then they have tea.

19. They want to take a nap, but they have tea instead.

20. A drive through the country of the Wicklow Moutains produces sheep, horses, green grass, rolling hills, and Avoka Handweavers while testing their ability to pronounce Irish. If they were to be graded, they would most likely receive a "Haych," two letter grades lower than an F.

21. They, begrudingly, work on their presentation for the CSSI conference, even though they look longingly at the sunshine and clouds outside their Irish lace curtained windows into the backyard garden that is tended by Pat, of Wexford.

22. After dinner, they watch "Man on a Wire" about a crazy Frenchman. "ZutAlo!" said in the accent of the Little Mermaid Chef. Alas...the movie and the characters and the story are too too french and cannot be included. And then they have tea.

23. Gerard and Meg read late into the night as the sun sets at 11pm.

24. Enter the sun at 4:tirty.

25. Meghan and Jarod get ready to leave for their car-ride to Sligo also can be pronounced Shligo. They eat thrashers, beans, wild boar sausage was tasty, and hard boiled eggs in their own egg cups (these are french, it must be said along with the tiny teaspoons that are German). With Yanks, a man from Wexford, an Irish/Yank, French egg cups, German teaspoons, English breakfast beans, and Irish thrashers they have quite the International Continental breakfast.

26. And they have tea. (Meg three cups.)

27. They bid Cheeky Pat goodbye with a Cheers and a million T-anks ("thanks").

28. Operation Road Trip to Sligo begins in the small Renault Clio.

29. Two hours later...Meg and Jarod are embarassed at the local McDonalds by the Taste of America that is circling the Irish country. It includes the New York Burger, the Miami, the Arizona and the Chicago burgers as well. Don't forget the onion rings...and Oreo McFlurry. Their country is so grand for their culinary contributions.

30. And they have tea on the banks of the River Shannon.

31. Back into the car they go, for another drive through a rainy, two lane, country drive to Shligo.

32. Finally they arrive at "The Shining" Hotel formerly known as the St. Columba's Lunatic Asylum. (This is fact.)

33. They each have a suite complete with tree (3) rooms with tree (3) windows, tree (3) beds, tree (3) couches, and a brilliant view of the former running yard for the inmates.

34. Met by red-haired, Dubliner, Stephen Kennedy and a Spanish Hotelier, Catherine, they drive to Rosses' Point. They worry a bit, that all of these details are leading them to become victims in Stephan King's next grand murder fil-em "film."

35. With a view of sailboats, crumbling rock walls, a moor where a boat collapsed and died, and a gentle mist out the window of The Waterfront restaurant, they couldn't help but feel that they were close to seeing lepracauns, faeries, and a rainbow just over the next hill with a four leaf clover nearby in a field.

36. Meeghan and Gerard write this blog.